IN HIS THIRD YEAR IN INDIA, Dave Rogers has been accustomed to see how football in India is growing at a decent pace.
In his first coaching stint in India, he headed the DSK-Liverpool International academy for two years before being handed over the reins of the first team this season.
Prior to arriving at the DSK-Liverpool International academy, Dave Rogers spent his playing days at England, Scotland and Netherlands. He made professional appearances in English clubs like Carlisle United, Peterborough and Scunthorpe United, Scottish side Dundee FC and SC Cambuur Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.
Rogers, also played in one of the most top clubs of Ireland,Shelbourne, where he won three League of Ireland Championships.
The Fan Garage caught up with the Englishman at the club's facility at Loni in Pune to have a conversation on Indian football, something that has been familiar for a while now.
On the vision that was set for DSK Shivajians beginning the club's second season in the I-League, when he took charge, Rogers explained,
"This is my third year with the DSK Shivajians and in India. I came in as a head coach for the DSK Shivajians being part of the DSK-Liverpool International Academy. In my days of scouting around India, I felt the academy players were able to settled and play senior football. When the opportunity came from Shirish, our owner, who is a big believer of promoting youth, this is what we believe in at Shivajians, it was the next step for me to step into the senior coaching. We both have a vision of developing our academy boys. It's in my blood to develop players, especially in India."
"PEOPLE DON'T REALISE BUT WE HAVE A LOT OF TALENT IN THIS COUNTRY. WITH SO MUCH POPULATION, IF PEOPLE GIVE LITTLE MORE TIME AND PATIENCE FOR THE QUALITY OF TALENT THAT WE HAVE, THIS FUTURE IS IN GOOD HANDS"
DSK Shivajians have played 13 games and are on eleven points, having won two games and drawing five to accumulate those points. Rogers, in charge of the team, in the club's second season at the top flight, shared his assessment of the team's performance so far,
"If you ask me Am I happy with the points tally, obviously not! But if I look at the overall picture, the development and the progress that we are making as a football club, especially the young squad, I'm confident it's going to plan. Young players will only grow by going through experience. We have dominated almost 90% of games we played in, and we give credit to the boys."
"We are playing a style of play that I want them to play, high counter attacking football. Not always based possession football. Sometimes you have to mix your game and try and play in the opposition half, which we do really well, we win the ball pretty quickly, we press really high. I'm overall pleased a 100% with the young boys. Points wise I know we should have more points on the table. This is a long term project and we are in a transition where we are introducing young players. These boys are going to grow stronger, day by day and game by game. It just the little bit of inexperience that has cost us"
The recent list of probable players for the national team camp had a few of DSK Shivajians in the numbers. A couple of players from the squad will be featured in a national camp for the first time. This, for Rogers was the highlight of his coaching career. Ecstatically, he spoke about this immense moment of pride saying,
"Everything I have ever achieved, in my coaching career has been surpassed in the last few years. There is no better feeling for a coach and a football club than seeing players getting selected for the national team. We have had total of six players who received the national team call ups. That shows we are catching people's mind and heart"
The Englishman continued,
"We are trying to do things the right way, not trying to jump the gun and say we have to be winning leagues and tournaments. The biggest trophy for us is too watch the players develop and see them getting selected for the national team. I'm very happy for Milan (Singh) and Jerry (Lalrinzuala) this being their debut camp. It is a proud moment for DSK Shivajians and me personally"
DSK have just played their first home game since February 5 after five consecutive away games collecting just five points on this long away travel. Rogers has been vocal about the cramped fixtures for the team, which consisted mostly of young players, were not healthy for the fitness and growth of the boys. This treatment, although varying a bit here and there, has been thrown at all teams. Elaborating on the hardships that the team had to go through and , Rogers shared,
"To me, who lives, eats, sleeps, drinks football this has been baffling, to say the least. It is crazy, not just for my club or my players but for every coach, club, player and even the fans who travel to support the club. I wish that common sense prevails as we move forward"
"There are so many good people on and off the field trying to take I-League football to the next level. I just feel people need to sit down and take advice from all areas, with coaches, players, owners, CEOs . I know the AIFF have a tough job but we got to sit down and say what can do to make it better, what can we do to get better performances"
Rogers made a simple but effective statement to stress the importance that enough rest brings out the best in a player,
"WHEN PLAYERS ARE NOT TIRED, THEY PERFORM BETTER"
He explained the hard travel that the team had to go through multiple flights, road travels and different foods spanning four weeks in a row. Rogers expressed concern that the taxing schedule could have an adverse effect on the young players
"I just hope common sense kicks in and we can sit down and put down ideas together for the better of I-League football and especially for safety and welfare of the players and the fans that travel"
On the topic of less than impressive attendance at Shivajian's home matches, Rogers was asked if the club is affected by this and he answered saying,
"If we have an owner like Shirish, we do not have to be worried as our owner has a vision of developing home grown players and showing passion for Indian football. We are trying to move forward. We are a new club, yet just in our second season yet we would like to see more fans from Pune. Behind the scenes, the admin staff, the CEO and the owner are trying to make biggest strides trying to get people though the gates to come watch us. And it is improving, as people can see us do things the right way and promote young boys."
Rogers shared his vision of home grown players as the club has continually been seeking from the inception.
When the topic of youth football was bought up, he had a smile on his face, giving his an impression how much he loves to talk about it. Being the strong supporter and believer of youth football, Rogers stated what needs to improve in order to get the best out of their potential saying,
"Obviously quality of facilities must be improved, training facilities, eating habits and nutrition"
Along the lines of youth development, Rogers struck a chord as he mentioned two other I-League clubs that are working and concentrating towards youth development just like DSK Shivajians. He continued,
"I have looked at team sheets of all I-League teams and apart from Minerva Punjab, Shillong Lajong and us, we don't see more than may be two Under 22 players. People and clubs have different agendas, aspects, they want to win championships straight away, they want to win game after game. We all do. But there is right way to do it."
Rogers continued saying,
"I'm happy that at Shivajians, we have an owner who believes that,"
"RESULTS AND SUCCESS WILL COME AS LONG AS WE HAVE PATIENCE AND SHOW TRUST AND BELIEF IN THE PLAYERS"
Rogers lent his view on how the entire community right from grassroots to all the way up must come together and learn from one another with our knowledge in order to lay a good pathway forward for benefit for players and Indian football.
Listen to the special interview podcast below
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